"Hey, watch out!" warned a distant voice. "Hey Jamie! It's not fair!" said a girl. "Whoa! I can see everything from here!" "Careful, Cupcake." said a deep voice. "How do you know my name?" "I'm Santa Claus, Cupcake; I know every child's name."
Pitch groaned. He felt like someone had hit him with a hammer. His body ached horribly and Pitch could tell he had at least three broken bones. His head was dizzy with pain and desorientation, and his eyelids felt like they weighted tons. He let out a throaty, pitiful moan and he forced himself in a sitting position, his bobbly arms forcing him to stay like that. He opened his eyes and was blinded because of the white- too unnecessarily white- snow and when he got time to adjust, he saw the Guardians playing with some children, laughter hurting his ears. Just as he was about to faint again form all the pain, the heard the crunching of the snow, and then a warm pair of tiny warm arms hug his arm. Shocked he looked at the little girl with messy blonde hair looking at him with amazed blue eyes.
"Hey Jamie! It's not fair!" said a girl.
"Whoa! I can see everything from here!"
"Careful, Cupcake." said a deep voice.
"How do you know my name?"
"I'm Santa Claus, Cupcake; I know every child's name."
There was no fear, but Pitch felt stronger for no reason. A small gloved hand touched his cheek and he felt his body hum with energy. Then he widened his eyes, reality striking.
The girl could see him.
She believed in him.
"Who are you?" asked Pitch with a raspy, choked voice. His golden eyes melted into the blue ones.
"I'm Sophie. I'm five, like this." Sophie ungloved her hand and showed Pitch five tiny fingers. Pitch nodded amused. "Who- are- you?" asked Sophie, poking his head with her index.
"I'm Pitch." said the Boogeyman raising and eyebrow. He tried to sit completely and gasped as pain hit him full force. Sophie looked worried, hugging his arm to her more tightly.
"What's wrong?" asked the girl, and Pitch felt himself melt under her gaze. The trembling in his body stopped and he rested his hole weight on his arms. "Are you hurt?"
"I- no, yes- I suppose." said Pitch, not knowing why on God's green earth she was talking to a child instead of making her scream in fear, or just running away. The mere idea of hurting her made Pitch sick, and he wasn't sure why.
"Oh" she nodded, and he smiled a littl. Te he winced as he inhaled too sharply, his ribs hurting like Hell.
"You should ask Santa Claus to help you! He's big and good!" exclaimed the girl, standing.
"NO!" Pitch said but too late, the girl has sprinted to where North was. He stood clumsily and felt dread form in the pit of his stomach. Just as he turned he saw Jack Frost flying above him, staff pointing between the Boogeyman's golden eyes.
"Ah ah ah! Not that fast, Pitch." taunted Frost. In a blur Toothiana was also there and Pitch felt North behind him. His knees started shaking due to exhaustion and slight fear.
"Sandy has taken the kids to other park. Not that they would see Pitch. They don't fear." North said pointedly and Pitch felt weaker by the second. Where was the strength he had felt?
"Pitch, any word before we end you?" asked the Easter Bunny and he pressed his boomerang to Pitch's temple.
Pitch tunes slightly his head to see the little girl mere meters from him, and his heart soared. He shook his head, frustration clear in his eyes.
"Take care of her." he mumbled.
"Who? Sophie? Sure, from you." sneered Jack and raises his staff. Just as he was about to blast Pitch, someone yelled.
"NO! Don't hurt him!" it was Sophie and as soon as she latched onto his arms the felt a little stronger. "He's ill! Pitch is my friend!" everyone froze in shock.
"But he's bad!" exclaimed Jack annoyed. Tooth tried to grab her but Sophie cried and Pitch put a protecting arm around her.
"Don't do anything to her." he said, no threatening tone in his voice. He rubbed circles in the girl's back, mostly to comfort himself. They were going to take away from her. He felt the dread intensify.
"So you can feed from her fear! We are no idiots. Give us the ankle-biter." Bunny growled.
"Do you think she'd be protecting me if she was afraid?" snapped Pitch.
Realization dawned on Tooth, who gasped ad pointed at Pitch and Sophie.
"She's your especial kid!" she exclaimed, covering her mouth. Bunnymund growled again and stepped forward.
"Bad Bunny!" exclaimed Sophie. North looked surprised and Jack was utterly lost. Bunnymund gaped at the girl.
"You can't be serious! North, he's using her!" Bunnymund said.
"Don't you ever imply I'd hurt Sophie." Pitch threatened.
"You'll scar her with you nightmares!" objected Jack.
"I would NEVER hurt my Sophie like that! Why do you think I give them nightmares?! Because I'm evil? Maybe my ways weren't the ones I should have followed, but they need the nightmares. What if they only receive good dreams? They grow without knowing how to cope with fear and desperation! Do you know how many adults or even teenagers I've seen die because they didn't knew what fear was like, huh?" Pitch yelled, covering Sophie's ears the whole time. "You are making the equilibrium disappear! The Man in the Moon created me for a reason! You just can't kill me because I do what I was created for! You surely must know if a spirit doesn't do their labor they-"
"-die." North finished. Tooth was teary-eyed, Bunnymund completely speechless and Jack was frozen (no pun intended), mouth agape. Pitch let go of Sophie's ears. "Pitch, we…" North began, unsure on what to say.
"Don't tell me you never thought about this." Pitch said disbelievingly. North blushed ashamed.
"I'm so sorry Pitch, I haven't realized all this. I was stupid at thinking that-"
"- you were doing this for fun." finished Tooth.
"I… mate…" stuttered Bunnymund.
"Don't. Save it." said Pitch raising his hand at the six foot rabbit. He felt the tug on his robe lessen. He looked down and saw that Sophie was nodding off. He lifted her and she quickly accommodated herself in his chest, head barely reaching his neck. "This won't be okay with an apology."
"Wait! What means she is your especial child?" asked Jack.
Pitch looked surprised at Sophie an then at North, just noticing what Tooth had said. The Boogeyman looked at the child nestled in his arms, and a smile appeared on his face. Jack looked at him startled at the genuine smile in the man's face.
"The special child is like Jamie is to you. It's the first child who believes in you fully, and truthfully. It like everything you do, you do it for that child, even risk your own life. From the moment the two meet, it's like a click, an instant connection. The bond between you too won't disappear ever. That bond can develop into anything, like friends, mentor/apprentice… lovers, well anything you decide, obviously when they grow." explained North, and Pitch saw the melancholic look on his eyes. Tooth had a longing expression while Bunnymund had a regretful one. Jack nodded, understanding.
"Is there any way of breaking the bond?" asked Pitch curiously. North pondered for a moment.
"I know of one spirit that works in the 'child's division' too… remember Curie Ostine?" Pitch nodded in acknowledgement. He personally knew Curi, and true to his work he was the most curious person Pitch had met in his life. "Well he met his especial child too, a kid named Joshua Etkins. He was on the Nice List. They were inseparable, always getting into mischief. Those years were full of amazement for discovering new things, they had so much life. There were good years." said North.
"There's no other time I have recollected so many teeth." Tooth remembered smiling.
"Remember those Easters? Mate, I had to hide them so well so they couldn't find them that easily." Bunny grumbled fondly. North just smiled.
"Well, years passed and Joshua became 16, and Curie became a spirit when he was 19. Curie felt in love with Joshua." Jack gasped surprised and the rest of the spirits nodded, clearly remembering it. "But Joshua didn't felt the same. Curie confessed his love to the boy, and Joshua obviously rejected him. Curie, devastated, left Joshua and never saw him again. The despair was so heavy on Curie's heart there was no way to help him. Eventually, Joshua grew up and forgot about Curie, married and had children." Pitch tightened his arms around Sophie's lithe figure, not daring to imagine how the feeling of rejection from Sophie could be.
"I suggest we talk at the North Pole. I'm freezing here and I don't think the cold would be good to the kids." Said Bunnymund, still glaring at Pitch while he rubbed his paws together.
Pitch looked at Sophie, not wanting to let her go, but he knew the Easter Bunny was right.
"I'll leave her in her home, okay?" he said, not really asking. Bunnymund opened his mouth to argue but Tooth elbowed him in the ribs. North nodded and Jack followed suit.
"Yeah… I will tell Sandy to meet us there." Said Jack and instantly flew off.
Pitch shrugged and turned his back to the guardians, limping a little but feeling immensely better, He was sure he only needed a little rest, some bandages and he would be ready to go back to work.
'Work' thought Pitch. As he walked he thought about the nightmares. The kids needed them, but he had to admit he made them stronger than necessary. He sighed. He needed to change.
"For Sophie." He vowed, kissing her head lightly.
When he arrived to her home- knowing where he lived when he delivered the nightmares, he realized grimly- he opened the door, and noticed no one was there. He took his time climbing the stairs, cherishing the warmth of the body he was carrying. He found it impossible for being this connected with the girl in such ridiculous little amount of time, but North said it was an instant connection, a 'click'.
He reached the second floor and immediately headed to the pink door maneuvering to open the door. He was assaulted by pink stuff and unicorns. He smiled at the sight and laid Sophie tenderly in the big bed, covering her with the thick covers. He brushed his hair one more time and kissed her head before very reluctantly exiting the room, closing the door behind him. He downed the stairs quickly and with a billow of his robes, he disappeared just outside the house.
'Sweet dreams, my little Sophie.'